So I’m fresh back from a week on retreat and starting to sort through the experience and its after-effects. Having a full seven days of both physical and emotional distance from “real life” is a truly precious experience. However, it’s not all roses and sunshine. I received a text from a friend yesterday that said, “So, was it so much fun? Do you feel totally relaxed?” Hm. How to answer this?
There were parts that were SO much fun. If you’ve ever tried to play a game of group Frisbee in silence, you know what I’m talking about. I loved reconnecting with my friends and the community, and the teachings from Tsoknyi Rinpoche were beautiful, mind-opening, and surprisingly hilarious (he could headline a Tibetan lama stand-up comedy tour).
But the real bulk of the retreat was not exactly “fun.” It wasn’t even “relaxing.” Sitting down and being with yourself in meditation- facing all of the things you’ve been turning away from- this can actually be intensely unpleasant at times.
My friend Debe, a fellow practitioner and all-around awesome person, gave me this quote last week:
“It is such a mistake to assume that practising dharma will help us calm down and lead an untroubled life; nothing could be further from the truth. Dharma is not a therapy. Quite the opposite, in fact, dharma is tailored specifically to turn your life upside down – it’s what you sign up for. So when your life goes pear-shaped, why do you complain?” -Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche
This about sums it up. The dharma- the Path- continues to shake me around in ways I didn’t know were possible. My time last week in meditation- 3 + hours/day- has left me feeling a bit like a snow globe. There’s a lot of space, a lot of clarity, but it’s hard to peer between the sifting flakes to find the way. Yeah, if life could quit shaking the snow globe, I’d be really grateful, but that’s not the way it’s going right now.
So I’m back to the real world, and I’ve got a lot of decisions to make. And a lot more sitting to do as I try to find my way.
So here’s a sort-of-junk-food-vegan recipe for you today. Why this one? Well, two reasons, really:
- I found during the past week that my moral compass seems to be pretty clear that I need to be as much of a vegan as possible. No, I don’t really want to, but I can’t keep ignoring the ethical issues.
- Sometimes a girl needs some comfort food, am I right? ‘Nuff said.
I came across this recipe a year or two ago on Angela’s awesome vegan Oh She Glows cooking blog, and it’s become one of my favorite go-to-recipes. You won’t believe how easy it is (it took me longer to type this out than it did to make them), and bag of these in the freezer is awesomely convenient for on-the-go snacking or breakfasts.
The texture is similar to a Rice Krispie treat, although of course it doesn’t have marshmallows (which, sorry to say, are not vegetarian) so it’s lacking that unmistakable sweetness. However, it does have a punch of smack-your-momma peanut butter flavor, which is always good for me, and the cacao nibs add a really nice bitter chocolate crunch.
The original recipe (lovely as it stands) is here. My recipe is pretty much identical (when you look at the ingredients, you’ll see there’s just not much to do), but I don’t mess around with small quantities. 🙂
Peanut Butter Not-Rice-Krispie Treat Balls
- 1 cup of all-natural peanut butter (if you can do organic, even better. Almond butter rocks too)
- 1 Tablespoon plus a splash of vanilla (please buy some good vanilla, it’s so worth it)
- 4 cups brown rice crisp cereal (Rice Krispies do work, of course, but see note at the bottom for ingredients)
- 3/4 cup organic brown rice syrup or honey.
- 4 tbsp cacao nibs (Angela says you can use chopped chocolate, but I always go with nibs. A bag isn’t cheap but they last forever)
- A pinch of salt
Pour cereal into a large bowl, add nibs, and mix together.
Using a small saucepan on LOW HEAT, heat the brown rice syrup or honey with the peanut butter and a pinch of salt, if using. Watch and stir until completely blended and just warm and runny. Don’t walk away- you don’t want burnt peanut butter.
Remove from heat and add in the vanilla. Pour the peanut butter mixture over the cereal mixture and mix until all cereal is coated.
It’s time to put together your balls! Moisten your hands with a little water and create small balls (like golf-ball size).
Note- If the mixture is too runny, you can add some more cereal. If it’s too dry, drizzling a little more syrup or honey over the bowl and stirring (no need to heat it up) works.
Place completed treats on a cookie sheet (line it with parchment first if you want to, but I don’t always bother) and place in freezer. Once they are frozen, move to a plastic bag or other container for longer-term storage. I do keep mine in the freezer, but they are also fine in the fridge. You can eat them right from the freezer (chewy, crunchy, cold and peanut-buttery) or wait for them to thaw. Well, maybe you can. I never do.
*Ingredient note: Don’t freak out. You can get the brown rice crisp cereal, brown rice syrup, and cacao nibs online at Vitacost for a significantly lower price than your local grocery. It’s pretty easy to get free shipping, too.